It's easy to wax prophetic about the interconnectedness of everything in this digital age. Not long ago, face-to-face conversations across oceans and continents were the stuff of science fiction. Now we can chat with foreign relatives (almost) effortlessly over Skype, or use Google Earth to virtually visit a neighborhood in a different hemisphere. But for all its stunning advances, online communication doesn't come close to replicating the psychological complexity of meeting in person.
In order to live and work effectively in the "global village," we need to understand the power and limitations of these connective technologies. Skype programmer Jaan Tallinn offers a taxonomy of communication, arguing that even a single digital bit can carry significant emotional weight. Tal Pinchevsky examines the psychological phenomenon of "digital intimacy." Pamela Haag takes a critical look at online dating. And Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society considers better ways of using the internet to bridge cultural gaps, making the world not only a smaller, but a better place.